Bayesian Methods for Estimating Average Vehicle Classification Volumes


Gary Davis, Shimin Yang

January 1999

Report no. Mn/DOT P2000-02

This report describes the development of a data-driven methodology for estimating the mean daily traffic (MDT) for different vehicle classes from short classification-count samples. Implementation of the methodology requires that an agency maintain a small number of permanent classification counters (PCC), whose output is used to estimate parameters describing their monthly and day-of-week variation patterns and covariance characteristics. The probability of a match between a short classification count sample and each of the PCCs is computed, as well as the estimates of the short-counts site's MDTs which would arise if the short-count site had variation patterns identical to each of the PCCs. The final MDT estimates are then simply the weighted averages of these component MDTs, with the matching probabilities providing the weights. Empirical evaluation of the methods using data collected at the Long Term Pavement Performance Project sites in Minnesota indicated that a reliable match of a short-count site could be made using a sample consisting of a one-day classification count from each month of the year. An evaluation of two-day classification count samples indicated that a two-day count is not sufficient to reliably match the site to a factor group, justifying estimation of MDT using weighted averages. For estimating combination vehicle MDT, these samples should be taken between May and October, and between Tuesday and Thursday. In this case the estimated MDT differed on average by about 10% - 12% compared to estimates based on full year's worth of counts, and differed by less than 26%, 95% of the time.

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